Flashback Friday: Twisting Matthew 18:15 To Make Sin Acceptable

Originally published April 26, 2016.

Twisting ScriptureSeveral years ago, a personal friend of mine began a very public journey away from biblical Christianity. Claiming to still be a Christian, he adopted a lifestyle that directly contradicted Scriptural principles and he encouraged others to follow his example. When I wrote a comment on his blog challenging his new theological positions, he chastized me for not approaching him privately first, in accordance with Matthew 18:15. Regrettably, I acquiesced to his demand that I confront him privately, because he twisted that very Scripture in an effort to avoid responsibility for his sinful choices.

Matthew 18:15-20 deals with restoring a transgressing brother or sister to fellowship within a local congregation.

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (ESV)

As Josh Buice recently wrote in his article, Matthew 18 and the Universal Church, there’s a difference between someone in one’s local church who sins privately and a person like my friend (who lives in another state) whose sin appears, not only in his blog, but also on television interviews and on other websites. The public display of his rebellion eliminates the need for private confrontation because his reputation doesn’t require protection.

I would add that my friend had already committed to his choices. Since Matthew 18:15-20 carries the goal of restoring a person to right relationship with God, it doesn’t really apply to someone who no longer accepts Biblical standards–especially when he or she publicly works to influence others to misinterpret Scripture in respect to that sin. When someone believes and teaches that their behavior meets with God’s approval, twisting the Word of God in order to justly their course of action, we can safely assume that they don’t honestly care about obedience to His Word.

Obviously commenting on my friend’s blog wasn’t going to bring him to repentance, but it could have made his readers think about the matter. Or I could have (and eventually did) written about him in my own blog, warning people against his error. Because he is somewhat of a public figure who writes openly about his lifestyle and beliefs, and because it’s highly unlikely that anyone will dissuade him from his sin unless the Lord miraculously intervenes, I need not talk to him privately before warning others about his false teaching.

I use my experience with him today as an example of how people use Matthew 18:15 out of context in order to silence those who expose their false teaching. Like my friend, they don’t really care about being corrected in a Biblical manner. They want to shame Bible-believing Christians into leaving them unchallenged.

Please be aware that someone who publicly disseminates false doctrine, particularly with the purpose of excusing sin and influencing people to embrace that sin must not be permitted to hide behind Matthew 18:15. Their public espousal of false teaching already demonstrates an unwillingness to repent. Just as they distort other Scriptures to their advantage, so they twist this verse. We need not play their game.

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Playing Catch-Up Is Just Fooling Around

Playing Around

The visible church, often comprised of false converts and true Christians who haven’t received solid teaching, betrays its eagerness to follow the world. From the ordination of women as pastors to the Woke Movement, evangelicals have worked long and hard to catch up to the progressive standards of our greater culture.

Compromise indeed keeps us comfortable, especially when the world has declared (in no uncertain terms) that Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: August 26 — September 1

Vintage Tulip

I love Elizabeth Prata for many reasons. In particular, I love her boldness to speak unpopular truths in her blog, The End Time. Her essay, Shout Your Abortion, and John Owen on infanticide, offers no apology for unmasking the basic brutality behind the willful termination of a pregnancy.

Equally outspoken, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life answers the question, What Does the Bible Say About…(Being Relevant)? We should carefully consider the Scriptural arguments she makes.

Ancient Church 01Clint Archer, writing for The Cripplegate, examines Charismatic and mystical experiences in his pithy piece, Are claims of supernatural experience really that harmful (in 500 words)? You need to read this one!

Plucking Forbidden Fruit by  SharaC appears in Into the Foolishness of God with an interesting observation for control freaks.

The Christian Counseling & Educational Foundations blog includes Is Reading the Bible a Chore or a Delight? by Steve Midgley. You’ll appreciate his practical solution for making your time in God’s Word more enjoyable and fruitful, I think.

If you’d like to see an interesting perspective on developing ethnic diversity in local Little Girl Welcoming Advanced Maskchurches, look no further than The Domain for Truth, where SlimJim writes Ethnic Churches: A More Better Way than Bashing Them. I can’t remember when I’ve read an article this fascinating and thought-provoking! Even better, SlimJim writes as a pastor of an ethnic church.

Reading Michelle Lesley isn’t always safe. The Holy Spirit often uses her writing to convict me. See if her post, Wise to the Ways of the Worldly: 4 Ways Worldliness Sneaks In, and the Scriptures to Slay It doesn’t expose something in you. Dolly's portraitThat’s okay — conviction is a good thing!

In his article for Pyromaniacs, Colin L. Eakin underscores the importance of discernment. Sheep, or Wolf? A Call to Discern explores reasons that evangelicals fail to exercise discernment and suggests ways that we can cultivate this necessary skill.

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Even If I’m Not Cherokee, I’m Oppressed (Supposedly)

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Enjoying fall leaves in Boston Common

According to family lore, my mom’s father was one quarter Cherokee. I’m reticent to embrace this claim after Senator Elizabeth Warren so famously had her Cherokee heritage debunked. During the height of that controversy, I learned the a vast majority of Caucasian Americans believe that they have Cherokee blood somewhere in their lineage. Therefore (as much as I’d like to think a little Cherokee blood runs through my veins), I dare not make that boast without further confirmation.

Even without Cherokee heritage, however, my gender and my disability provide sufficient grounds for Continue reading

Masculinity Isn’t Toxic. Femininity Isn’t Toxic. But Feminism? Now THAT’S Toxic!

Redhead 03I didn’t include Michelle Lesley’s outstanding blog post, Toxic (Evangelical) Femininity, in last week’s Saturday Sampler because I wanted to draw special attention to it. Yeah, it’s that significant!

Michelle wasn’t so much concerned about the world’s latest kick of blaming everything on “toxic masculinity.” The world rejects all God’s standards anyway, so we needn’t be surprised at the growing rejection of male leadership that God established from creation. Rather, she focused on the feminist attitudes that have been slithering into the church.

Sadly, Michelle correctly analyzed the situation. I say sadly because the growing feminist influence in evangelical churches highlights the increasing compromise with the world that Continue reading

Humility And Standing Firm: A Balancing Act

sola-scriptura-02Being outspoken has its drawbacks, especially when your beliefs hurt people you have known and loved for decades. Sometimes I’d rather have a blog called The Softspoken Pansy.

Being outspoken, I frequently post things on Social Media that challenge established evangelical thought, hoping people might stop and think about my perspectives. I post with the clear understanding that I could get pushback. Anyone posting on Social Media really should post with that expectation. Whether it’s your blog, Facebook or Twitter (or any other app), posting publicly invites conversation — both positive and negative.

On the other hand, I rarely give pushback on someone’s post, reasoning that it’s their forum, giving them every right to express their beliefs without fear of censure. Sometimes their posts trouble me. I see professing Christians make extremely worldly comments, and I just itch to play Holy Spirit and convince them of their errors. But I feel as if doing so would invade their territory.

Anyway, this weekend I posted a quote by Justin Peters that resulted in a firestorm on my personal Facebook page. Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: July 15 — July 21

Lollipop Sampler

Happy Tenth Facebook Anniversary, Stephen by Stephen McAlpine is funny. I  guarantee you’ll chuckle as you read the first several paragraphs. But his observations should sober us. And encourage us to use social media in ways that honor the Lord for as long as we can get away with it.

In his weekly contribution to The Cripplegate, Clint Archer answers the question, Are there prophets today (in fewer than 500 words)? I could answer in one word. But Continue reading